This is from a Gallup Management Journal interview that I recently came across in some of my notes. It’s right on, and is applicable to all organizations of any type, not just government organizations (which is the immediate context):
GMJ: How can government begin engaging the minds of all its employees, managers included?
Mears: The answer begins with swapping control for accountability — and accountability requires ensuring that employees understand the outcomes that are expected of them. When employees understand desired outcomes and have simple metrics to track them, you have accountability.
Employees also should be empowered to think about better ways to reach those outcomes. They can experiment and make appropriate local improvements as long as outcomes are reached. This helps eliminate some of the busywork that builds up when people don’t understand the big picture. Accountability works better than control.